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May 9, 2004

May 9, 2004

What an exciting week, I guess—sad, too.

A couple of days after my last entry, things seemed the same as usual: boring. I believe it was the third of May, the day before we left for Mech Camp for maintenance, that we were on stand down. I had gotten a package from Mom with a bunch of good food and some tequila or margarita flasks. Technically, we’re not suppose to have them, but damn, it tastes good. Like I said, this last pause was quite boring until we began taking mortar rounds.

Alright, so the enemy knows where we are. Mortars are nothing new, and they weren’t hitting anything like usual. They are usually inaccurate—until today.

Rivera was on watch. I was ready to relieve him when the mortars began to impact. I stood up in the driver station to watch with Rivera. Then the slow motion kicked on inside our heads. A mortar round dropped directly inside the turret of a Humvee—a Humvee that some Marines had started to board.

Our mouths dropped as we saw the Humvee leap from the ground, shrapnel spraying from its doors and windows. Everyone around hit the ground.

Then we saw it.

The head of a Gunnery Sergeant ten meters from my vehicle. It wasn’t only shrapnel spraying from the vehicle, but also flesh, blood, and bone.

For the next two hours the Corpsmen were picking pieces of this man out of the Humvee, off the ground, off the wall, and so on. It was heartbreaking. I could do nothing but bow my head and pray for his family, friends, and Marines.

This was the first time I could remember being scared, feeling my heart pounding out of my chest and in my ears. My skin turned red and felt hot. “The next one might be in my turret or driver’s station,” I thought.

We left the next day. We’re back at Mech for some more R & R and some maintenance.

The General Mattis, who set the deadline for Fallujah to be controlled by ICDC by the tenth, wants us to do a convoy through the city, stop in the middle so he can meet with the mayor for half an hour, and then keep going all the way through. The purpose: to see is it’s safe and to get an idea of the effect we’ve made on the people. Plus, Bush said he won’t pull us out of Fallujah until we can take a convoy through the city without being attacked. Right now we’re doing rehearsals, getting ready for tomorrow, or so they say.

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